As I stated earlier, I missed the live Gettysburg webcast, hosted by American Military University. Well, here is the link to the webcast, so you can listen to it and enjoy. Overall, the series was a good first time at hosting webcasts on the war. I hope there will be many more in the future.
As an active duty U.S. Army Officer, I’ve recently had a military refresher course on 19th Century military history. In particular, the military theories of de Jomini, the leading western 19th Century theorist, reveal a different perspective from the conventional wisdom in terms of the “decisiveness” of the campaign. Assessing the campaign through Jominian eyes lends credence to many of the broader conclusions held by your webcast panel. Jomini stated that “the line of operations should have a geographic and strategic direction, such that the army will always find either to its rear or to the right or left a safe line of retreat.” Despite the horrific human losses and Confederate tactical defeat at Gettysburg, Lee’s selection of a line of retreat was right out of the Jominian playbook and allowed Lee to survive for almost 2 more years.
Lee’s adept application of Jominian concepts gave Lee a qualified, albeit very costly, success; he attrited Northern forces on their own soil, preserved his own center of gravity, and emerged better off logistically. In a letter to Jefferson Davis, Lee noted that his army had “achieved a general success” at Gettysburg. The horrific casualties notwithstanding, Lee managed a logistical victory that would feed and equip his men for the better part of the next two years. Lee managed to capture or impound thousands of horses, mules, and various livestock from his Pennsylvania campaign along with the accompanying feed, harnesses, and wagons. Lee’s logistical victory, therefore, invigorated his remaining force and allowed the South to continue its cause until Appomattox in April 1865.
1. Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini, “Summary of The Art of War,” translated from the French by Captain G.H. Mendell and Lieutenant W.P. Craighill, (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1992), first Published in 1862 by J.B. Lippincott & Co., excerpt reprinted in US Army Command and General Staff College, H100 Rise of the Western Way of War (Fort Leavenworth, KS: USACGSC, June 2009), H107RB-273.
2. Kent Masterson Brown, “Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign,” (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 388.
3. Ibid., 28.
George Stuart’s realistic sculpture of Lincoln reading the Gettysburg Address can now be seen online – along with Grant, Lee, Davis, Stanton and others – at http://www.galleryhistoricalfigures.com/lincolnera.php.
Please feel free to use any of the images with credits.
Historical Figures Foundation
Hola Major (I believe) Scheinbaum. You might remember a Chuck Blanchard from the ROTC days. If so, and you actually get this, leave a message.